- Hello, David! First of all, could you introduce your band? How did everything start? Who was the initiator of creating Undergang? Which bands did influence you?
- Undergang was formed in the early summer of 2008 by the same 3 fiends who still makes up the band today. Originally the band was supposed to be a 5 piece, but two "members" never showed up to the first rehearsals so we decided to let the band be a trio instead, which to this day I could never imagine it to be any other way. I had been writing riffs and composing a few songs for a couple of years and finally got some people together to start the band. In the early days the music was influenced by Autopsy, Carcass, Master, Suffocation, Grave, Prophecy of Doom and Impetigo to name a few and those are still amongst our influences. We played our first gig in September 2008 in a small basement in Copenhagen, a gig I organized as well. We played several more or less local shows the rest of that year and recorded our debut album "Indhentet Af Døden" during the winter of 2008/2009. Things just naturally evolved form there on to where we are today.
- Why did you decide to write all your texts in Danish? Even the band's name is in Danish. What are the main topics described in your songs?
- When we started out we didn't expect the band to go further than our local scene, so it was a natural choice to have a Danish name for the band and with that decision made it seemed right to keep the lyrics all in Danish too. In most of my past bands up to Undergang the lyrics had been in Danish as well, so it was not really something we thought about too much. When we were trying to come up with a name for the band we were stuck between Undergang and Dødsfald, the latter has now ended up as a song title on our recent album "Døden Læger Alle Sår" as a nod to the past of the band. It's pretty common that people outside of Denmark doesn't really know how to pronounce the band name and we've even encountered people in the States who thought we were an American band and simply had chosen the name with the English meaning to it, which of course would be ridiculous, hehe. I guess the whole thing about all of our lyrics being in Danish makes us stand out a bit as a death metal band, but I prefer to just let the music do the talking. And in the end, it's not like anyone can understand what I'm singing anyway, hah!
Lyrical topics are based around death, pretty much everything from the act of murder to the process of human body decomposition. All sorts of gruesome stuff we find suitable for the individual songs.
- In July you release your 3d album, "Døden læger alle sår", what is roughly translated as "Death heals all wounds". How would you comment on that title? Is that a conceptual album?
- Yeah, the translations is pretty accurate. It's based around the saying of "Time heals all wounds", just with death being solution instead. The title is taken from the first song on the album where the lyrics deal with trying to escape the frustration, depression and pain in life through various forms of intoxication but the only way out being death in the end. Pretty much what you see pictured on the cover too. It's a bit of a personal one for me as it was written in a time in my life where I was on a low mental point and had a work injury to my back that caused me constant pain leading to me doing a lot of self medication to not much use. But life goes on...
This 3rd album is also the final nail in the coffin to our "Døden" trilogy, so you'll see us explore some other territories on future outputs. But don't expect much to change besides the album titles, Undergang is what Undergang is and will always be so, whether you love it or hate it.
- How could you describe the music? How different is it from your previous release, "Til døden os skiller"?
- I think it's over all heavier than "TDOS" was and I feel like it's the best production on an album we've had so far, thanks to the great work of Greg Wilkinson at Earhammer studio. It was a pleasure working with him on the album and we'll definitely work with him on some recordings again in the future! Total support to Greg and Earhammer!
Sadly, our friend, Morten, with whom we recorded our past 2 albums (Indhentet Af Døden & Til Døden Os Skiller) got kicked out of the studio while we were still working on the mixing of the TDOS album, and after that we couldn't get access to the files, so we had to master the album based on a rough mix. There's a lot of things I'd have liked to do differently on that one, but it's all in the past now. Back to DLAS; We're also flirting with a few more faster and shorter songs on this one. Something we presented a bit on our 7" from 2013 (Søm Til Din Ligkiste) but wanted to take even further. We'll most likely have more of those type of songs in future releases as well as they're fun to play and they seem suitable to our heavy writing too. Besides that, I feel like the overall level of musicianship and writing o the songs on the new album is better than anything we've done in the past. And I've change my way of "singing" so everything is a bit heavier and more gloomy than previously.
- Tell us a bit about the recording sessions. It's an interesting case as it was recorded during your US tour. So how did it go and how complicated was it?
- It was the best time I've ever had in a studio to be completely honest. I don't really like recording very much, especially the vocal tracks sucks to do in general, a thing I'm sure most vocalists can agree on. But things were very chill with Greg, so it made the whole atmosphere a bit more relaxed. We had met Greg at shows in the Bay Area on past US tours and since I was impressed by the production of several of the releases he had been working on we talked the idea over in the band and asked him if he'd be interested in recording our new album with us when we were going over for our full US tour of July 2014. Luckily he was up for it, so we booked time for a week starting after a day off upon the last shows on the 3 week tour with the Seattle bands Trepanation and Astraes Pestis (sicks bands, look them up!), with us playing the last show in Oakland, California, where his studio is located. We usually go to the studio after playing a line of shows as that is the best preparation to play together as fluidly as possibly as a band. At least for us. However, we ended up partying HARD on the day off so when we entered the studio the after we were all three completely annihilated from the day before, hehe. We recorded all 10 songs on that first day, only to delete them all and start all over again on day too because we sucked at playing on that day, hah! I'll say that was the only complication we had, haha. But after that everything went smooth and we recorded all 10 songs all together in one day again and then spend the next two days doing guitar dubs and a few bass dubs. Then Greg and the others started looking into mixing things a bit before the vocal tracks, as I had accidentally forgotten all the lyrics at home and I could only remember half of the lines in pretty much all of the songs. I'm an idiot at times, heh. But everything was cool, as I said earlier it was a chill time in the studio, where Greg lives too so we were giving access to stay there for the recording session too, which was awesome and definitely a time saver. In between we even had a day where we all went to a river and swam and shit. A wicked day off in-between the studio work!
- Another notable moment is that Eric Cutler was your guest musician. How did it happen? Did he like your new material?
- Fuck yeah, I was super stoked that he agreed to do that when I asked him! Autopsy has been my favorite band since my early teen years so it is a huge honor for me to have him shred away on one of our songs. It's also the only solo in an Undergang song over all! We played a show supporting Autopsy in New York in May 2012, alongside Funebrarum (Thanks to Daryl for getting us on the billing!) and Unearthly Trance and I had stayed in touch with Eric over email since that gig, so when I asked him he said he had done some other guest solos recently for other bands and were up for the task, which was incredibly cool to me. He was scheduled to come into the studio and record there with us, but he ended up canceling two times while we were there because of obligations with his kids and stuff like that, so in the end we decided that we'd just send him the song when we had it properly mixed after we returned home and he then recorded it at a friends home studio and send it to us. He even did 4 different ones, so we had some alternates to choose from. Fucking legend! We had two versions fully mastered too, so we can add an alternate version to a re-release of the album or whatever. Nice to have options. I can't remember him commenting on our music with anything other than it being heavy, haha. But it can't have sucked too much since he did the solo, hehe. I'm not one to ask into others opinion of our music, if they have something to say they'll do it on their own. I don't feel any need to beg for shit like that.
- In July you visited Europe with "Necro Mergence" tour. Did you meet your expectations? What kind of merch did you bring?
- The tour was overall freaking awesome. StarGazer are an incredible band on and off stage, besides being great guys, so it was a blast being on the road with them. The shows were generally well attended for underground bands, I'm always realistic with things like that, and the response from people at the shows were good for both bands. Even though our styles of death metal are sooo far from each other it seemed to work perfectly sharing the billings. Our gigs at Metal Magic Festival and Chaos Descends festival were great too. We ended up a bit late for both festivals and had to play 30 minutes after our arrival at both of them, haha. A bit frustrating, but they both went well, it seemed. The one bad thing to point out was the douchebag Icelandic driver we had flown in to drive for us, he was nothing but trouble from the second we met him. What a piece of shit. After a week of him being a cunt, he drove off to our hotel without any of us at a show in Brescia, Italy, where he hit a building with the van and made a huge damage to it, never apologized and kept being the worst person imaginable, we then finally left him behind in Belgium a few days later and had a friend from Copenhagen fly over to London and meet us there to do the driving for us for the rest of the tour. What a nightmare! But what a cool cat he was to fly to London and save our asses! Everything from then on was way better and the last half of the tour was really cool.
We always print new merch for tours and for this one we had a white tour shirt with the new album cover on the front and the dates on the back, a newly full color added to it IAD shirt printed on black and a blood dripping red and white printed longsleeve done, with a new design I did specially for that based on a song off the new album entitled "Lemlæstelsens Kunst" (The Art of Mutilation). We still have some of each left in various sizes that'll be sold at our upcoming tours in the remains of the year.
- How easy is it for your fans to reach you after the show? Do you usually come out to talk a bit to your fans and to sign some stuff?
- Hah, there's rarely a back stage area at the places where we play and even when there are I prefer to be outside, hanging at the bar or in front of the venue if I'm not stuck behind the merch table. I never understood why people hide in the back, unless, of course, your tired from touring and need a minute to rest and just be alone with your thoughts. Personally I just want to have fun and have a chat with the cats who come to our gigs. I think it's important to be available around your gigs for people to have a chat, if they feel like that. I also treasure that in bands I fancy myself, anything else just seems a bit stuck up and weird to me.
- Undergang is not your single project, tell us about other bands you are involved in.Which band is your first priority?
- Undergang is definitely my number 1 band. It's my hearts blood and the death metal band I wanted to play in since I was 15 or so. Just took me a long time to make the band happen, haha. But yeah, I like to try out other forms of music, though generally all within the death metal vein so far. It also helps me focus Undergang's music on what it is and should sound like. I'll leave my experimentation to other projects and keep Undergang (un)pure.
I have a studio project with my friend Takashi from Anatomia, called Wormridden. We're slow things down a bit more in this band and tune lower than the bowels of hell. We have a demo and a 7" out so far and we're slowly working on a MLP or an album. We also played out first show in Tokyo last year, when Anatomia and Undergang toured there together. We had Uchino from Coffins help out on second guitar and K. Ondsind from Undergang on the bass and it was a lot of fun. I hope we get to play some more shows in the future too, just the logistics is a pain in the ass, haha.
Then there's also a fuzzy doom band I have locally with some friends called Reefer. We originally intended on finding a clean singing vocalist, but when we didn't succeed in that I just picked up the vocal chores in that band too, so it got an overall death metal feel to it as well, which is cool and all. We have a demo out from 2013 called "Bow Before the Altar of the Drugs" and have a played a handful of local gigs, the biggest one being a slot at the funeral for Heavy Days in Doomtown, a heavy music festival in Copenhagen organized by my partner from Kill-Town Death Fest and some of his friends. We'll play at a friends wedding next weekend too, first gig since the Heavy Days when back in May.
Finally I play in a newer death metal band in town called Phrenelith, that we started after Simon and I left Mold in late 2013. It's heavy and gritty and a bit faster than what I do with my other bands, more flesh for the Kill-Town Death Militia. We have a demo out from earlier this year and we recorded a second one with 3 new songs and a cover of Disciples of Mockery that'll be released on my label Extremely Rotten productions in September this year.
- By the way, have you heard of another Danish band, also called Undergang, but they played Black Metal...?
- Yeah, I'm fully aware of that band. They did a demo in '99 and never did too much else, so we decided it didn't matter that much using the same name as we found it appropriate for our heavy music. I know the guys who played in that band too and there's no hard feelings and they support what we do with Undergang and we do with their respectful bands nowadays too.
- You are not only a musician, but an artist too. When did you start drawing? Did you study it anywhere or how did you learn all the techniques?
- Thanks, but I don't really consider myself an artist, though. I've been drawing on and off since I was a kid and when I started playing in bands I started doing logos and art for them and so forth. It expanded a bit and I've done art for friends bands and even worked as a hired gun for international bands and so on, but recently stopped doing so as it wasn't fun for me and I have a strict schedule as it is, so it always ended up with me delaying releases and shit, which I hated. So I decided just to overall stop doing art for anyone else than my own projects and a few things for close friends. I've never really studied anything in regards to my illustrations, but I've been heavily inspired by classic horror comic artists like Bernie Wrightson, Richard Corben and many others. I grew up reading a lot of horror comics and have generally always loved everything morbid and watch a lot of horror movies and such, so it all comes from that and it goes well hand in hand with death metal.
I'm proud of what I've done and for the offers I've had, even the ones I've declined. It's always heart warming when people likes your work and wants to pay for your services, but it's not a game for me. I'll stay with being a "musician".
- How is it different to create a cover for your own music from creating after someone's request? So far, do you have any favourite art of yours?
- It's always easier being your own boss, but at the same time I think I have higher expectations for the work I do for my own projects than for those I do for others. I always do my very best no matter what and I never hand anything over that I'm not satisfied with, but I usually take longer time on the illustrations for my own projects. But at the same time it can also be hard to picture exactly what someone else have in mind when they hire me. It can take a lot of sketches to get to the point where everyone is satisfied, but it has worked out in the end with almost all projects.
Some of my favorites are the demo LP re-issue cover art for Demilich and I really like the cover for the Wormridden EP "Festering Glorification", though that one is very simple. And then the cover for Undergang's "Døden Læger Alle Sår", but it's also one of my most recent pieces. I usually like my most recent illustrations as I keep improving and the latest work will usually show those improvements to my style.
- What about the contemporary Metal artists? Do you have any favourites? Maybe you could name any selected works you like especially?
- I love pretty much everything that "Putrid" Matt Carr does, he rules when it comes to filthy horror comic style nastiness. We've also worked with him on a few things for Undergang, I like inviting other underground artists into our fold for shirt designs and such every one in a while. The same goes for Josh McAlear and Tue "Sick" Sprogø, both whom I've hired to do shirt designs for Undergang. Besides them I'd like to give a shout out to Daniel "Sawblade" Shaw, Thomas "Necromaniac", Eric "Rot", Jeff Zornow and painters like Paolo Girardi. And finally older inkers like Paw Nielsen, Luxi Lathinen and Turkka Rantanen.
- Alright, thank you for this interview, David. Is there anything you would like say in the end?
- Thank YOU for inviting us into Tough Riffs! Been a pleasure replying to your questions. Undergang will play 3 shows in Finland, alongside Corpsessed and Solothus in October and we'll play 2 shows in Russia in December this year and soon we'll start looking into and announcing some tours for 2016. Keep an open eye for shows near your neck of the woods in the future. Check out our new album "Døden Læger Alle sår" and get your copy from Dark Descent Records (USA) and Me Saco Un Ojo Records (Europe) and their distributors.
D. Torturdød / Undergang
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